Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis

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Broadway Books, 2010 - Medical - 276 pages
A riveting exploration of the most difficult and important part of what doctors do, by Yale School of Medicine physician Dr. Lisa Sanders, author of the monthlyNew York Times Magazinecolumn "Diagnosis," the inspiration for the hit Fox TV seriesHouse, M.D.

"The experience of being ill can be like waking up in a foreign country. Life, as you formerly knew it, is on hold while you travel through this other world as unknown as it is unexpected. When I see patients in the hospital or in my office who are suddenly, surprisingly ill, what they really want to know is, ‘What is wrong with me?’ They want a road map that will help them manage their new surroundings. The ability to give this unnerving and unfamiliar place a name, to know it–on some level–restores a measure of control, independent of whether or not that diagnosis comes attached to a cure. Because, even today, a diagnosis is frequently all a good doctor has to offer."

A healthy young man suddenly loses his memory–making him unable to remember the events of each passing hour. Two patients diagnosed with Lyme disease improve after antibiotic treatment–only to have their symptoms mysteriously return. A young woman lies dying in the ICU–bleeding, jaundiced, incoherent–and none of her doctors know what is killing her. InEvery Patient Tells a Story, Dr. Lisa Sanders takes us bedside to witness the process of solving these and other diagnostic dilemmas, providing a firsthand account of the expertise and intuition that lead a doctor to make the right diagnosis.

Never in human history have doctors had the knowledge, the tools, and the skills that they have today to diagnose illness and disease. And yet mistakes are made, diagnoses missed, symptoms or tests misunderstood. In this high-tech world of modern medicine, Sanders shows us that knowledge, while essential, is not sufficient to unravel the complexities of illness. She presents an unflinching look inside the detective story that marks nearly every illness–the diagnosis–revealing the combination of uncertainty and intrigue that doctors face when confronting patients who are sick or dying. Through dramatic stories of patients with baffling symptoms, Sanders portrays the absolute necessity and surprising difficulties of getting the patient’s story, the challenges of the physical exam, the pitfalls of doctor-to-doctor communication, the vagaries of tests, and the near calamity of diagnostic errors. InEvery Patient Tells a Story, Dr. Sanders chronicles the real-life drama of doctors solving these difficult medical mysteries that not only illustrate the art and science of diagnosis, but often save the patients’ lives.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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User Review  - mollybdenum - LibraryThing

Interesting cases presented, but author also discusses US doctor training instead of staying with the medical puzzles. Would have been better to write two separate books. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jzdro - LibraryThing

Great stuff. Sanders begins with an emphasis on pattern recognition as a means to diagnosis. As she goes along she shifts to greater emphasis on differential diagnosis lists and decision trees. The importance of the physical exam is stressed made impressively clear throughout. Read full review

Contents

The Facts and What Lies Beyond
3
The Stories They Tell
22
A Vanishing Art
39
What Only the Exam Can Show
53
Seeing Is Believing
77
The Healing Touch
109
The Heart of the Matter
129
TestingTroubles
167
Sick Thinking
193
Digital Diagnosis
216
The Final Diagnosis
239
Acknowledgments
253
Index
271
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About the author (2010)

Lisa Sanders, M.D. is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale University School of Medicine and a clinician educator in Yale’s Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency program. Dr. Sanders writes the popular “Diagnosis” column, which appears monthly inThe New York Times Magazine.

Her column was the inspiration for the acclaimed Fox television show “House M.D.,” and she currently serves as technical advisor for the show. Although teaching about clinical reasoning and diagnostic error is her first love, much of her research and practice focus on the treatment of overweight and obese patients She is the author ofThe Perfect Fit Diet: How to Lose Weight, Keep it Off And Still Eat the Foods You Love.

Before entering medical school, Sanders was an Emmy Award-winning producer at CBS News, where she covered medicine and health and she also worked as a producer at ABC and NBC News. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.


From the Hardcover edition.

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